Spire Of The Bat - Prologue
FROM ABOVE, FAR, far beyond... it appeared as a coaly mountain, a jagged split-peak wreathed with pale fumes, marked and segmented variedly with hairline striae of glowing light, of brilliant white, lurid yellow or brooding red luminance.
Below that artificial atmosphere of smog: vast edifices of plasgranite and sombre rawcrete loomed mightily like gargantuan tombstones, ribbed and riveted with plasteel, braced with girders, flickering with lights.
Steeples and arches and domes reared out of the deep dark to pierce the choking false-cloud cover, as winged beasts leered and grimaced from their perches, skulls grinned from on-high, and volt-powered screens unscroll messages of faith to tens of scores of thousands...
Crowds of humanity thronged the walkways to capacity, and the paved streets that wound through valleys of architecture or were elevated up high upon braced ledges or plasteel struts. Others packed linked trains of electropressure-powered monoconveyer-carriages that sped along ribbed lines through grey arches into dim tunnels.
Rings of lofty byways saw the use of personal transport, as sleek and bulky voltcars and autoengines drove upon smooth black polysemicrete and plastarmacadamite, marked with angular neon runes of care and accordance.
These represented the more amenable aspects of the zone.
Further down the levels of structure lay the infrastructure of the tech districts, the pumping, pounding multlayered factoryland that supported commerce for this human-hive, this Hive City.
Deeper still down the strata was the urban heartland itself, the hive of tenements and residential blocks, home to tens of thousands.
There, poison flowed, and blood, and tears, and waste, and narc, and liquor. All human substances mingled in a churning sargassic sea, in the reek of pitch and sh*t and gunsmoke, to screams of agony, horror, and delight.
And deeper still, below that? Why, there lay the unknown, the forgotten places that remained and were buried or blocked off over the ages, now home only to the mad, the desperate, and the dead...
HIS REFLECTION SHOWED, for a second, in the glossy black monitor screen that dominated the wall before him, as he extinguished its power with a twist of a metal switch.
Turning, he crossed the room at a calm pace, his boots echoing upon the metal-plated floor, the sound carrying in the vaulted, stone-furnished chambers.
The gentle amber voltlights in their metal sconces were connected to synchronized pressure-switches; they warmed as he approached, dimmed as he passed by, so that his long shadow was cast behind him, beside him, before him.
Through an echoing corridor of metal, now, and he breathed a voice-command, killing the lights entirely.
Alone in the blackness, he blinked, eyes registering with all the faculty of one who does not need light to see by.
His boots echoed again, on a descending ladder of wide metal rungs, then upon rawcrete as he reached their base in a wide, elliptical hangar, and he felt his rich blood stirring, adrenal glands and bio-signals kindling and building pace as his night-eyes ran over ribbed metal, his olfactors sniffed fresh ozone, the sweetest scent for miles, in any direction, "horz" or "vertiz"; miles and miles and miles.
His mouth watered as he voked another command - and his call was answered...